organizing your writing

If you love journaling...

and planners, and self-development, and #studyspo, and periods of time for self-reflection and taking stock of your life, then this is for you.

We’re coming up on the two-week anniversary of quitting my job. (It just happened!)

I was at that job for over two years, and I wasn’t happy. I felt like the proverbial dog sitting on a nail, and I didn’t move but I kept howling until someone showed me a way out. And I took it.

When I quit, I decided to take the whole month of December off, to rest and recharge and write and reflect.

On where I am, now.

On where I want to be.

On what I’m doing to get there.

A couple of years ago, I wrote this nifty little ebook that I called Journaling Your Goals.

It’s loosely structured into a four-week program:

Week One: Here and Now

  • evaluate the current balance of your life
  • realize your values
  • start implementing small changes to make you more productive
  • learn how to track your productivity 

Week Two: Reflect:

  • look carefully at what you’ve accomplished
  • how your current behavior could bring you joy…or regret
  • how to overcome paralyzing doubt
  • how to combat fear
  • how to become a better you

Week Three: Act On It:

  • associate hard work with good things
  • visualize your goals
  • automate your routines
  • use various techniques to “hack” your brain to respond positively to your efforts at productivity

Week Four: Moving Forward:

  • create your own manifesto
  • start a spiritual routine
  • celebrate your achievements
  • support yourself with self-care and healing techniques 

JYG also includes sections on:

  • how to set a self-directed challenge
  • how to get obsessed
  • how to make a Memory Jar
  • New Year’s Resolutions

It’s about 30,000 words of handy tricks, life hacks, and inspiration, based on my own experiences as a lifelong addict of organizational tools and journals, for $3.

$2.99, actually.

I’ll be using it this month to realign myself with my values and get back on my feet for the New Year.

So if you feel inspired to do the same, especially considering the fact that I am facing a month with no income and every little bit helps, I would appreciate your support by buying a thing that I created (all by myself! out of thin air, it seems!).

Thanks, lovelies. You’re the best.

And if you do start going through the program, please tag me or drop me a line and let me know how it works out for you!

Read the pitch here.

Buy the ebook here.

Quick Writing Tips: Planning

Not every writer wants or needs to create a plan before they start writing. This post is specifically for the people who do. With Camp NaNoWriMo starting up again in July, I thought it would be nice to list some of the ways I’ve heard of planning out a story. Hopefully one of them might provide some ideas for how to not only start, but finish your next story.

1. The Outline

Basic outlines follow the major events in the story, effectively summarizing an important chapter, section, or scene so that you can see how the story will unfold. An outline as you might write for a high school essay typically involves an introduction, body, and conclusion, with some variation allowed depending on the type essay. You can approach a novel in the same way, planning out the introduction, major events, climax, and ending, or you can make your outline more fluid. Some outlines aren’t necessarily in order; you can list the major events you want to write about, then use the outline to place them in the order you want your story to unfold. If you have multiple characters, flashbacks, or other timeline-bending devices, you might consider telling the story out of chronological order.

2. End-Middle-Beginning

Some writers like to start out of place, first writing the end, then figuring out how their characters got there. Likewise, you can bracket your story by writing the first chapter then skipping strait to the last chapter. This gives you a realistic idea of what you need to fill in the gaps, and can prevent you from straying off on too many bunny trails while you write. Knowing where your characters will end up can also give your story a clearer direction, making the rising action and setup fit the resolution better than if you started from scratch.

3. Maps

This may be specific to fantasy stories featuring a lot of travel, but you you can adapt the idea of a world map to other stories as well. Even if you don’t have much artistic talent, you can still sketch out a general plan for what you want your world to be like. Draw details if you think they’ll be necessary, or just go with something as simple as a square and some dots for cities. Label important features or places – the map is designed to give you a grasp of your world, and can prove an invaluable reference once you start writing. For an epic fantasy landscape, you might add roads, castles, temples, caves, magical sites, locations of past or future battles, homelands of your characters, etc. If your story takes place in a single modern city, you can still create a map. Where are particular stores located, or venues that your character might visit? Where do your characters live? Where will important events happen? If the coffee shop is located on one end of town, and the cinema is located miles away on the other, does it make sense for your characters to get something there after the film? You can determine what makes each location on the map special and unique. Sometimes it’s fun to create the map first and base your story around the locations you’ve created.

4. Consistency

Maybe you have a seed of an idea that you want to grow naturally, but you still feel like you should go with a plan of some sort. Fair enough. Try finding the situation where you write best, and try to consistently spend a certain amount of time writing in it. Do you write best at a certain time of day? Free from electronic distractions? In a special room in your house? Maybe a special place outside, like a favorite coffee shop or library? Do you listen to music while you write? If you do, try to find a genre, artist, or album that fits your story and that you won’t get sick of hearing. Once you find the conditions where you write best, set a reasonable word or time goal (maybe even with an upper limit), and write. Try to do that every day.

5. Story Diagram

If keeping to a strict schedule or planning a linear outline doesn’t appeal to you, try a more creative story map. You can do this with any number of subjects you want your story to explore, but if you’re concerned about structure and story dynamics, start with the characters and events. You can list these out as with the outline, but try to keep them in a format that you can easily change or add to (dry-erase/chalk boards, or posters with the events written down on sticky notes or cards work well here). Play around with the general order of how you think the events in the story should unfold, then add arrows representing how those events affect one another. One character’s actions may initiate a domino effect that feeds into other events later on in the story. Feel free to be mess while you plan your story. Draw multiple maps; one for characters, one for events, one for symbolism, one for mood, one for style, one for literary devices, etc. Use glitter and rainbow gel pens. I don’t care if you’re thirty and writing the goriest crime drama ever, if it helps you, get your hands on some pretty pink teddy bear stickers. Use the ones with the giant purple hearts to show character deaths. Just be sure to actually start writing when the time comes.

6. Draw

You don’t need to be artistically talented to “draw” your characters. I mean, if you are an artist, nothing’s stopping you, and many artistic writers may find it helpful to be able to visualize their characters or world. But if you struggle to draw recognizable stick figures, you can still design your characters and world long before you actually start writing. Use character forms to plan out the way your characters look, maybe even throw some personality traits and backstory in there as well. Chances are, you won’t want to describe every aspect of your character directly in the book, so if you know where to start, you can imply a lot about their person without having to check back in your story for consistency. The same is true for other elements of your story, especially if it contains any made-up elements. Build up the world in which your characters live,visually, on paper, or in your your head. If your story has more realistic elements than fictitious ones, you can keep notes and build your character’s personal world, from their friends and family, to their neighbors, favorite places, their history, etc. If your story contains any subject matter with which you are not yourself familiar, draw from reference sources and keep track of what you want to add to the background of your novel.

7. Chapter by Chapter

Take small bites; consider limiting your chapters to only a few pages, or maybe even one. Each small section of your book should cover a relatively simple single idea, and if you can reach that goal in a hundred words, there’s no reason to inflate it to ten, twenty, or thirty pages. Small chapters are also easier for your reader to handle, and can prevent both you and them from getting bogged down in a 20+ page chapter. This is invaluable when editing!

hey guys! i’ve written and read a ton of college essays over the past few months and my friends and i finalize our applications, and i thought i would share some tips for writing college essays with y’all. 

before you start

  • find your prompts. go on the school’s website and see what essays you need to write. are you applying to any specific programs? those almost always require additional writing.
  • organize your prompts. i recommend organizing by topic: leadership, challenges, etc. it will make the process seem less intimidating because you will realize that you don’t need to write 20 different essays, but around 5 or 6 that you can modify for each specific question.

personal essays

  • share something not mentioned elsewhere in your app. personal essays are a great opportunity to talk about some interest that isn’t represent in your academic or activities records. talk about the language you’re trying to learn or a family tradition or your favorite tv show. prove that you are more than just your grades and extracurriculars. 
  • be specific. write about a specific moment or object or experience. this makes the essay unique to you and allows you to engage the reader by providing more details, all making you more memorable. this will also cut down on how many words you will need to get to your main point. 
  • be aware of what impression you’re giving off. the personal essay is where the admissions officer gets their impression of your character. a stranger is going to read this essay and decide if you are the type of person they want on their campus. might you come off as irresponsible or immature? does it seem like you’re trying too hard?

those wack af prompts

  • just do it. these prompts are designed to see how you think, so start writing based on what your initial reaction was. i found it helpful to free associate until i came up with a topic that i liked. don’t try too hard with these essays; they’re meant to be fun!
  • read your essay out loud. this is a great way to figure out if your “voice” is strong. when read out loud, these essays should sound like a story you are telling to a friend. don’t overuse the thesaurus! use some colloquial language! make a funny quip! you want to sound like a real human.

“why us?”

  • this is about you. this is not an essay about why you like the school. this is an essay about why you are a good fit for the school. what about the school will enable you to thrive? what role will you play on campus?
  • research, research, research. convince the admissions officer that you care a lot about the school. you love it a lot and have your free time learning about it, so include as much detail as you can in your essay. some questions to consider are…
  • academics: why is their curriculum a good system for you? how will you take advantage of the resources (advising, study abroad programs, etc.) offered? what courses do you want to take? which faculty are you excited to learn from and work with?
  • community: which clubs and organizations do you want to join? how will you contribute to the community? what about the school’s culture and traditions appeal to you and why?
  • what does the college emphasize about itself? demonstrate that you share the same values as the college. if the college loves its small class sizes, then guess what, you love small classes too. if the college is super involved in activism and service, then talk about some causes and issues that are important to you. 
  • connect to your life. use this essay to remind the admissions officer about the rest of your application. if you are applying to an interdisciplinary program, mention your interdisciplinary course load in high school. talk about your favorite activities and discuss how you will continue to pursue those interests on campus. 
  • think about the future. college is not the end goal; mostly likely, you’ll be searching for a job afterwards. how will this school help you reach that goal? include some sentence along the lines of “My years as a student here will give me the knowledge, experience, and connections I will need to succeed beyond college.”

in general

  • be you. honest essays are easier to write and more compelling to read.

that’s about it for now! feel free to message me if you have any questions; i’m also willing to read and edit your essays if you want. good luck with your apps!

STASH OF ADVICE

These are tips for future Nicole fr past Nicole who made a lot of mistakes this school year ┗(•̀へ •́ ╮ ) so I hope at least some of you can relate to this stash of tips I have kept for myself in my notes for incoming Senior High levels!

1.  WRITE NOTES ON GIVEN ACTIVITY SHEETS
& keep your papers organized (please)

Write tiny notes on the given activity sheets instead of putting them in your binder notebook (ok my own preference tho!!) bc one paper = topic is better than multiple messy papers = one huge topic!


Keep reading

“Right now we should be coming together, not being divisive. We have to be united going forward.”

Okay, but no. The incoming government has shown nothing but the utmost disregard for any contrary views and has repeatedly stated an explicit desire to wreck shit. They’re giving appointments to literal Nazis with ties to literal Nazi organizers and positions in literal Nazi theory echo chambers. You don’t “work with” an organization like that. You can’t.

If they’re not willing to “work with” anyone else, we ought to divide, divide, divide until the state comes to a screeching fucking halt.

Write to your congressman. Write to your governor. Your mayor. Your union organizer. Write to the guy who runs your post office. Write to the damn coroner. And I don’t even care what views you express, so long as they’re contrarian.

Working with this government is not unity. It’s collaboration.

For everyone who is considering self harm

You can do so many other things than self harming that will help you.

Drawing on yourself with markers (pens can be sharp)
Humming
Singing
Coloring a coloring book
Organize your stuff
Clean
Write a poem
Write a story
Write a novel
Look up fun silly diys
Read fanfic
Write fanfic
Watch anime
Watch positive YouTube
Watch let’s plays
Go to a book shop
Go to a library
Surround yourself with stuff/people you like
Hug a pillow
Hug a stuffed animal
Knit
Learn a new language
Learn sign language
Organize a bookshelf
Try different colors of makeup or nail polish
Try on fancy clothes
Wear ridiculous outfits
Design a cosplay
Go to a thrift shop
Draw your favorite character (even if it’s a stick figure)
Make a lil comic
Make up characters and imagine them in everyday life
Imagine you have a pet dragon
Imagine you are 2 inches tall
Imagine you are 20 ft tall
Lie on the floor and imagine what it would be like if the house/room was upside down
Dance
Pretend you are an elegant ballet dancer
Try different ways to wear scarves or ties
Practice tying a bow tie
Make a smoothie
Eat fruit
Eat vegetables
Wear an oversized sweatshirt
Drink a hot cup of tea/coffee/hot chocolate
Chew mint gum then drink ice water
Brush your teeth then drink orange juice
Play with water
Play with water balloons
Feel things around you and think about how they feel
Think about why the sky is blue
Make up ridiculous stories explaining the magic behind everyday things
Practice origami
Make stuff out of construction paper
Stick post it notes with happy notes and cute drawings everywhere
Encourage someone else
Color on yourself with highlighters
Make a pillow fort
Make a tent using a blanket
Make stuff out of toilet paper rolls
Practice sword fighting with wrapping paper rolls
Sit in a big box and pretend it’s a rocket or a train or anything you want
Pretend you are a general and inspire your troops
Pretend your life is being narrated by Morgan Freeman
Watch Disney movies
Watch kid shows/movies
Read your favorite children’s books
Read out loud with funny voices
Narrate everything you do
Make a paper hat
Brush your hair
Try different hairstyles
Try silly walks
Skip around
Smell a book
Paint a mug
Walk in a field
Walk in a park
Walk in the woods
Hug a tree
Collect acorns
Collect leaves
Collect rocks
Skip rocks in a lake or pond
Bounce a bouncy ball
Bounce an acorn
Draw on the sidewalk with chalk
Paint an old T-shirt with fabric paints
Do a puzzle
Play solitaire
Make stuff out of cardboard boxes
Paint rocks
Stick googlie eyes on everything
Wear every hat you own at once
Balance a book on your head
Make a baking soda volcano
Watch butterflies
Listen to birds
Plant flowers
Water plants
Imagine what voices animals and inanimate objects would have if they could talk
Talk into a fan and pretend you are a robot

And above all, know that you have a future. You have the potential to achieve great things. Life is worth living, and you don’t need to hurt to feel alive. You may feel empty at times, but you don’t need to fill that emptiness with pain. You have the power to help yourself. It will be difficult, but you are strong enough to do it. You are strong enough to fill that emptiness with happiness, to seek out things that bring you joy. Never forget that you deserve happiness.

*cries because school gets in the way of the one thing I actually care about right now: dan and phil*

The Top Ten Habits of  Successful Students

1.Treat school as your job.  

2.Pursue learning with passion, vigor, and an  open mind.  

3.Always attend class. Arrive on time and  ready to learn.  

4.Do your homework and extra credit options!  

5.Set academic, extracurricular, and social  goals and aim to achieve them.  

6.Become an active learner, a good listener,  and class participant. Think outside the  box and strive to make interdisciplinary  connections among your various classes.  

7.Demonstrate responsibility and take ownership of your education. Don’t be afraid to  take risks and learn from your mistakes.  

8.Master and refine your ability to schedule,  manage your time, and be organized.  

9.Develop your writing skills.  

10.Build relationships with your teachers. Attend office hours outside of class whenever possible.

If you are doing all these, GREAT!

Virgo||14

reminders for the new school year

((i start my senior year in a week, ahhh)

·         your grades do not define you

·         trying your hardest should be your goal in whatever you do

·         it is okay and normal to be stressed (to a certain degree)

·         it is okay to say “no” to friends when you just want to stay home

·         stay positive!!

·         if you enter a project w/ a negative attitude, your attitude will stay negative

·         drink tons of water!!

·         Google Drive should be your best friend

·         Google Calendar is a great app to stay organized

·         write down your homework immediately

·         it is never too late to try something new

·         do not beat yourself up unless you KNOW you could have done better

·         someone is probably in the same situation you are in

·         high school goes by so quickly

·         wash your face two times a day

·         your hard work WILL pay off someday

·         do not apply to a college you know you won’t be happy at (something I am constantly telling myself)

·         be involved in your school/community

·         you will never know unless you try

·         music/dance parties by yourself are great stress relievers

·         find your passion and actually work towards it

·         do not ignore your teachers when they’re lecturing

·         a friendship can start with a simple hello

·         It is okay to be selfish and independent (again to a certain degree)

·         Netflix is great but limit yourself on school nights (binge watching Grey’s Anatomy can be done on the weekend)

·         make a spreadsheet for college application process, and for scholarships